Abortion time limit increased for rape survivors, minors, mentally ill women

The new rules of the central government allow termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks as opposed to the previously mandated 20 weeks, for select categories of cases. These include survivors of sexual assault, minors, women with physical or mental disabilities.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: October 14th, 2021

The new rules permit abortion for up to 24 weeks in certain cases. Photo: Pixabay

The gestational limit for medical termination of a pregnancy has been increased for certain categories of women, including survivors of rape, minors, women with physical or mental disabilities.

Two days back on October 12, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the new rules for the medical termination of pregnancy. The new rules permit abortion for up to 24 weeks in certain cases, as compared to the previously-mandated 20 weeks.

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As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the following categories of women shall be considered eligible for termination of pregnancy for a period of up to 24 weeks:

  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest.
  • Minors.
  • Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce).
  • Women with physical disabilities [major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (49 of 2016)].
  • Mentally ill women including mental retardation.
  • The foetal malformation has substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.
  • Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the Government.

Besides, the new rules also demand the formation of a state-level medical board mandatorily, to decide if a pregnancy could be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation.

The medical board will also ensure that the termination procedure is carried out with all safety precautions along with appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request for medical termination of pregnancy.

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